The system will eventually come to Europe, too.

Nissan’s new Serena minivan with a semi-autonomous technology called ProPilot takes a big step towards the automaker’s promise of bringing a self-driving vehicle to the road. This system doesn’t take over complete control, but it’s the company first stage towards making that dream into a reality.

ProPilot focuses on highway use and combines steering, acceleration, and braking control, which makes it somewhat similar to Tesla's Autopilot system. The tech can even bring the van to a complete stop if there’s an emergency ahead. ProPilot only works in a single lane for now, but Nissan plans to introduce a system with automatic passing in 2018.

To activate ProPilot, drivers simply press a button on the steering wheel, and a front-mounted camera begins scanning the road ahead. Nissan might avoid Tesla’s recent government scrutiny over its Autopilot system because the Japanese automaker forces drivers to keep their hands on the wheel. A torque sensor in the steering column knows whether someone is in control, according to Automotive News. If not, ProPilot first turns on a warning light, then a buzzer, and finally deactivates if the driver still doesn’t grab the wheel.

The new Serena goes on sale in Japan in late August, and Nissan promises a version of this tech for the Qashqai in Europe for 2017. The company eventually wants to launch it in the United States and China, too. Renault-Nissan has over 10 models with some autonomous functions on the way over the next four years.

Nissan started developing its autonomous tech a few years ago, and the company created a clear roadmap for the future. By 2020, the automaker wants to have a system that can automatically tackle urban roads and intersections.

Source: Nissan, Automotive News

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